GUWAHATI, March 26 - With the entire country in lockdown till April 14 to prevent spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said the government must ensure that essential products, including food and medicine must reach people belonging to the lower income segments who are unable to work and earn during this period.
Speaking to The Assam Tribune today, the senior Congress leader also alleged that police are using brutal force against common people, including newspaper hawkers, in the name of enforcing lockdown and termed such incidents “violation of basic human rights”.
“Lockdown is very necessary, but it should not lead to a situation where people may face starvation deaths. The government must ensure that all citizens receive at least essential supplies. It must make sure that people do not suffer either from the Covid-19 pandemic or from starvation. The Central and the State governments must formulate a plan so that economically vulnerable sections, including daily wage earners, small traders and self-employed persons, whose incomes have ceased following the lockdown, are taken care of. Basic commodities like rice, pulses, cooking oil and vegetables should be made available so that people can tide over this crisis,” Gogoi said.
He also alleged that health sector workers in Assam are yet to be provided minimum safety equipment. “Doctors, nurses, lab technicians and other health sector workers lack hazmat suits and other essential safety materials even in the GMCH here. The people who are serving round-the-clock to ensure that the pandemic does not spread are themselves facing risks due to lack of safety equipment,” Gogoi said.
He also condemned the action of Assam Police wherein many people, including newspaper hawkers, have been severely beaten up. “Poor people are being targeted by the police... People going out to buy groceries and medicines and newspaper hawkers have been beaten up. Police have no right to thrash anyone. If anybody has violated rules, they can be booked. Police must act as facilitator. These incidents are a violation of basic human rights,” said the former Chief Minister.